UFC Fight Night: Covington vs. Woodley is almost upon us, and we have a whopper of a card set for Saturday evening, broadcasting live from the APEX Center for the last time until November. The 14-fight bout sheet is top heavy, with the bulk of the great fights on the main card and the prelims loaded with the mid-tier and entry level contests. There are still compelling bouts there, just not much in the way of instantly recognizable names.
Right now, we’re going to examine some facts and figures of some of the fighters in hopes of making the selection process a little bit easier when making your DraftKings fantasy MMA lineups. Let’s get started.
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Colby Covington, $9,300
Covington is the epitome of a volume striker. He’s fast and aggressive, taking no time at all to establish his jab and control the pace. He doesn’t pack much in the way of true knockout power, but the constant volume he throws wears his opponents out. Colby is a range striker who averages an 86% or higher rate from the outside and averages 4.17 strikes per minute while only absorbing around 3.02 per minute. He’s smart, makes adjustments on the fly and has a very durable chin, and even if he was finished by Usman, it took nearly 25 minutes for Kamaru to get the job done. At this point in their respective careers, Covington has much more upside than Woodley, with the pricing being more than justified in this contest.
Jordan Espinosa, $8,000
Espinoza is an orthodox technical striker who utilizes volume to its maximum potential. Landing 5.49 strikes per minute—and with an accuracy rate of 60%—Jordan makes good use of a stinging jab and throws plenty of heaters in the process. His defense is just as sound with an absorption rate of only 2.84 shots per minute. He is a tad bit too willing to put himself in harm’s way and has paid for it with several submission losses (4), so he’ll need to be careful with David Dvorak ($8,200) in that regard. This is an incredibly well-matched fight, one that could see either man victorious.
Mayra Bueno Silva, $9,000
Silva is a kickboxer who employs pressure and aggression to set a breakneck pace. She hits hard and often, to the tune of 4.87 strikes per minute, however, she absorbs a whopping 7.25 shots per minute in the process. She is all too willing to stand and bang, a game plan that really backfired on her against Maryna Moroz. That said, she should be fine against the struggling Mara Romero Borella ($7,200), who has dropped four of her last five contests and is on a three-fight losing streak. Not to mention how slow and methodical Borella is, who actually seems too tentative, as though she’s afraid to really engage her opponent. This should be Silva’s fight to lose.
Tyron Woodley, $6,900
Woodley is known for his excellent wrestling, explosive athleticism and his extremely heavy hands. He fits this category not because of the quantity (7 (T)KOs), but because of the quality of that thunderous right hand. The way he disposed of Robbie Lawler was scary, and even though some of his fights can be a bit grindy (see both Thompson fights), when that overhand right lands flush, it makes the grinders worth it. Covington needs to be careful of that, because despite his durability, no man is invincible. Tyron has had issues with a faulty gas tank when his fights get into the third round and beyond, therefore he winds up in our dreaded gas guzzlers category.
Niko Price, $8,500
Price is a wild man in the cage, a real opportunist who has the ability to make the most of dire situations and he has 10 knockouts to prove that point. Who can forget his knockout from the bottom of Randy Brown? Who can forget his upkick KO of James Vick? Does he make mistakes? Yes he does, and he is easily drawn into brawls where he’s experienced three knockout losses in his last five fights, but Donald Cerrone ($7,700) has been exhibiting clear signs of erosion, and his chin has always had a soft button, so he’ll need to stay mindful of Niko’s hands and feet, both of which can end his night early.
Johnny Walker, $8,300
Walker is a knockout king in the truest sense, with 14 of his 17 wins coming via knockout. He is on a two-fight losing skid, but against much better competition than Ryan Spann ($7,900) has faced. And Spann has a tendency to be overly methodical, sometimes fighting with too much patience (see Sam Alvey fight). Against Walker, who is the human embodiment of raw energy, that strategy might not work out for him before he ends up on the receiving end of a flying knee or massive elbow. Johnny could also end up in the same boat, though, as Ryan has four knockouts of his own, as well as 11 submissions, so Walker will really need to be on the ball if he plans to leave the cage with the W.
Kevin Holland, $9,100
Holland is another wild man, a low-end volume striker who boasts 4.65 strikes per minute while only absorbing 2.69 shots. Kevin holds nine knockout victories and has won four of his last five contests, with the last two both being knockout finishes. He’s not always at the top of the MMA MENSA list, but he’s looked better and better, especially from range with his kicks and his excellent countering. He’s always been great on the ground and has six submissions to back that up. Where he needs work, though, is his conditioning, which has been suspect historically, so until he really gets that in hand, he’ll end up on our gas guzzlers list, as well.
Tyson Nam, $8,600
Nam is a longtime veteran with real power, evidenced by 11 knockout wins. A regional player until last year when he was finally picked up by the UFC, he has a record that doesn’t really tell the story of what a good fighter he actually is. He possesses a long, lean frame and prefers to potshot rather than pressure with volume, but in this bout, he will be at a distinct physical disadvantage, as Jerome Rivera ($7,600) is 5’10” and has a 4-inch reach advantage. Jerome is quite skilled on the ground, so Nam will need to be wary of that, but his power and veteran savvy should see him victorious over this less experienced foe.
Donald Cerrone, $7,700
Donald Cerrone, $7,700
Cerrone is a big threat on the ground with 17 submission wins, but he also boasts 10 knockout wins, so he makes his way onto our knockout kings list, as well. “Cowboy” is on a 4-fight losing skid, but there are a couple of caveats we must make here. The first being the controversial loss to Anthony Pettis. That eye poke from Pettis definitely changed the complexion of the fight, and because it was missed by the referee, we saw Donald take an L in a fight he was doing very well in. The second is that his competition has been premium grade with Conor McGregor, Justin Gaethje and Tony Ferguson taking the top three or four spots in the rankings at the time they fought. Cowboy is known to be a slow starter, so he’ll definitely need to be sharp right out the gate, as Price will be aggressive and fast from Jump Street. This is a fight that Cerrone should win, but at this point, and with as much fight wear as he’s put on over the years, it’s anyone’s guess how far his skillset has eroded. Saturday will tell us exactly where he’s at, win or lose.
Ryan Spann, $7,900
Ryan Spann is a talented ground specialist with 11 of his 18 wins coming via submission. He’s been evolving his overall skill set and is always composed and measured—sometimes too measured, as his fight with Sam Alvey illustrated. The thing is, he hasn’t quite figured out how to pair his physical gifts with his wealth of skills. Everything seems a little disjointed with him, not the complete, well-rounded fighter he has yet to become. That said, he’s got power, submission chops and the ability to keep his cool under pressure—all traits that Walker has succumbed to in past fights. This is a darned good contest and should be fairly entertaining—we hope.
Gerald Meerschaert, $6,800
Meerschaert is a workhorse with a well-rounded skill set and plenty of grit to snag hard-fought wins. He’s got an excellent ground game with a whopping 23 submissions to his credit. He averages 2.34 takedowns per bout and actively looks to get the fight to the canvas where he can work his ground wizardry. “GM3” is not the most consistent athlete and he has a soft spot on his chin that a few opponents have found their way to exploit, and young Khamzat Chimaev ($9,400) might just be the next one to do it, but we must never underestimate the power of experience, and Gerald has plenty of that. This is a very tough fight for Meerschaert, one that was clearly set to use him as a stepping-stone for Chimaev, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility for him to get the W.
Darrick Minner, $7,000
Minner is another ground specialist with a ton of submissions on his record—21 of them, to be exact. He’s an aggressive grappler and is like a dog with a bone with a guillotine choke, pursuing that particular finish relentlessly and with good results (11 of his 21 submission wins are guillotines). What he lacks in natural athleticism and power, he makes up for in prowess on the ground. Then there’s the downside, and that is his weak gas tank. We have seen Mr. Minner huffing and puffing by the second round more than once, so if he’s going to have a chance against a strong wrestler like Laramie, a guy who is pretty sound both offensively and defensively, he’s going to need to bring his A-game and a well-conditioned pair of lungs. Because he has stamina issues, Darrick has also ended up on our gas guzzlers list.
Tyron Woodley, $6,900
Kevin Holland, $9,100
Darrick Minner, $7,700
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